Articles are reproduced with thanks from the Archdiocesan website, unless otherwise stated.


1 October 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Leading Australian social scientist, biologist and women's health researcher, Dr Renate Klein has slammed a new service that allows Australian women to order the "abortion pill" RU486 by phone and without a face-to-face medical or psychological consultation.

"Abortion by phone is an abomination. It is also unsafe and dangerous, particularly for women in regional areas," she told Catholic Communications this morning.

Earlier this week a group calling itself The Tabbat Foundation launched a telephone service to allow Australian women to access abortions over the phone. Costing around $250, the abortion drug RU486 and its companion drug PD (prostaglandins) are posted to the women after they are given a medical assessment by phone.

In Australia to obtain RU486/PD it is necessary to have approval from a doctor. However assessing someone's medical condition by phone is alarming, Dr Klein says.

Family Planning groups and Pro Choice advocates are hailing the abortion-by-phone service as a breakthrough for women especially for those in rural and regional areas who currently have to travel long distances or even interstate to terminate an unwanted pregnancy at clinics in the city.

But it is women who live in the country and towns across regional Australia who will be most at risk, Dr Klein warns.

1 October 2015

The following statement was given by Archbishop Denis Hart and published in today's issue of The Australian, page 12. Addressing the latest wave of protests against the distribution of the booklet 'Don't Mess with Marriage', particularly in Tasmania, Archbishop Hart points out that the basic rights of religious freedom and freedom of speech should apply to all, including Catholics.

'Freedom of choice. It’s a universally accepted, fundamental rule of civilised society.

But which freedom has command over another in the hierarchy of rights? Does freedom of speech outrank freedom of opinion, and are they both junior to freedom of information anyway?

And what of religious freedom, the right of individuals and organisations to follow the dictates and teachings of their faith without unfair and unjustified interference? Where does that fall in the freedom pecking order?

I ask this in response to another anti-choice offensive from the Greens, this time in Tasmania, questioning the Catholic Church’s ability to reinforce its religious beliefs to families that have made a deliberate choice to educate their children in a Catholic school.

29 September 2015 

Julian Burnside, published in The Age

Just as a person's character is judged by their conduct, so a country's character is judged by its conduct. Australia is now judged overseas by its behaviour as cruel and selfish. We treat frightened, innocent people as criminals. It is a profound injustice.

It was with some surprise that I found myself engaged in such a hotly political issue as refugee policy. I had never been involved in politics, nor was I interested in it.

My best explanation of how this happened lies in a story I heard a long time ago. It involves a family whose 10-year-old son had never spoken a word. The parents had passed from anxiety to despair to resignation: there was no organic reason for his silence. One morning, as a novelty, the mother decided to serve porridge at breakfast. She had never served it before. The 10-year-old took a spoonful of porridge, looked up sharply and said, "I think porridge is revolting."

His parents were astonished. "It's a miracle! You can speak! Why haven't you spoken before this?"

"Everything has been satisfactory until now" he said.

The arrival of the Tampa in Australian waters in 2001 was misrepresented to the public as a threat to our national sovereignty. The people on Tampa were rescued at the request of the Australian government.

They comprised for the most part terrified Hazaras from Afghanistan, fleeing the Taliban. The Taliban regime was universally recognised as one of the most brutal and repressive in recent times. The notion that a handful of terrified, persecuted men, women and children fleeing such a regime could constitute a threat to our national sovereignty is so bizarre that it defies discussion.

28 September 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Most Rev Julian Porteous, Archbishop of Hobart and former Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Sydney believes some in society are increasingly seeking to manipulate anti-discrimination legislation to silence the Church on same-sex marriage and other important issues.

This morning a Tasmanian transgender activist lodged an official complaint against the Australian Catholic Bishops' booklet, "Don't Mess with Marriage". Martine Delaney claims the 16-page Pastoral Letter distributed to parishes and parents across Australia in July this year breaches Tasmania's Anti Discrimination legislation.

Delaney, who began life as a male and is now in a same-sex relationship with another woman, insists the booklet is "humiliating and insulting" to same-sex attracted couples and the children of same-sex partners.

In response to such charges, Archbishop Porteous points out that the Pastoral Letter on Marriage affirms the dignity of all human beings regardless of their physical characteristics, gender or the orientation of their sexual attraction.

"There should not be threats or intimidation against anyone who expresses a view in favour of traditional marriage," he says and calls for any debate leading up to a plebiscite on same sex marriage to be conducted in an atmosphere of respect and where all arguments can be presented and exposed to rigorous scrutiny.

9 September 2015

The submission lodged by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to the Victorian Legislative Council's Inquiry into End of Life Choices is now available on the Parliament website.

In its 12-pages, the Archdiocese took a strong stand against euthanasia, defined as ‘the act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering’.

Euthanasia, it argues, is contrary to the dignity of the human person and especially dangerous to the elderly, disabled and vulnerable. It cited the evidence of the ‘slippery slope’ witnessed in Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where people with bipolar disorder, autism, anorexia and chronic fatigue syndrome have been euthanised.

The submission urged the Committee to reject any proposals that would make euthanasia legal in Victoria as it is ‘society’s admission of the failure to look after those who are most vulnerable’.

7 September 2015

Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council

MOST Reverend Michael Kennedy, Bishop of Armidale in NSW, has today issued a newly written Prayer for Parliamentarians on Marriage.

In his capacity as Bishop Delegate of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference to the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council, Bishop Kennedy has today disseminated this new prayer to all dioceses for distribution and use Australia-wide.

Bishop Kennedy writes, ‘During this period of national debate on marriage, and although as a country, we are still unsure about whether there will be a plebiscite or a referendum on this issue, it is hoped that during this period, this new prayer will be used by Catholics, (and perhaps other people of faith) to pray for our political decision makers.’

The bishop concluded, ‘I encourage you to distribute the prayer in your Diocese. May it be well-used at this crucial time.’

Download the prayer here.

4 September 2015

The Carmelite Centre, Melbourne

HUMAN rights advocate and prominent Melbourne lawyer, Julian Burnside, together with Carmelite Friar Ken Petersen, drew a crowd of passionate refugee supporters to a panel discussion, “Refugee Policy in Australia: A Contemplative Approach”, held at the Carmelite Centre, Middle Park on 2 September.

The immorality of false language together with the draconian conditions in which asylum seekers are held in detention, chiefly on the off-shore facilities of Manus Island and Nauru, became a catalyst for a lively question time from the animated audience, many of whom had travelled long distances to hear the guest speakers.

Julian Burnside began the evening by highlighting successive government’s use of pejorative language to demonise refugees and incite fear in the Australian public.

His emotional telling of story after story of rape, attempted suicides, denial of medical care and natural justice to people, who are in mortal fear of their lives, had a profound effect on those present including fellow guest speaker Father Ken Petersen who cited the Good Samaritan as a model for Christians in making a compassionate response.

Fr. Petersen, a Carmelite based at Sancta Sophia Meditation Community in Warburton, drew on the power of meditation, contemplation and prayer as complementary in any action where one is seeking to maintain a commitment to the sympathetic and respectful management of asylum seekers.

2 September 2015


In a new set of pastoral guidelines for the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has made some significant moves, allowing all priests to absolve the sin of abortion and granting SSPX priests the faculty to absolve Catholics of their sins.

‘One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life,’ the Pope said in a 1 September letter addressed to Archbishop Rino Fisichela, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, charged with organising the jubilee.

In today’s society, ‘a widespread and insensitive mentality’ has become an obstacle to welcoming new life, with many who don’t fully understand the deep harm done by the ‘tragedy of abortion,’ he said.

However, Francis also noted that there are many women who, despite thinking abortion is wrong, feel that they have no other choice.

‘I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision,’ he said.

A woman who obtains an abortion automatically incurs a ‘latae sententiae’ excommunication, along with those who assisted her in the process. Because of this excommunication, the sin of abortion can normally only be absolved by a bishop, or certain priests appointed by him. In the Archdiocese of Melbourne (and in many other Australian dioceses) already, the bishop has given to every priest with diocesan faculties the power to remove the automatic excommunication of those who have, or co-operate in an abortion.

However, Pope Francis is taking it to a universal level. He said that the forgiveness of God can’t be denied to a person who has sincerely repented, especially when the person comes to the Sacrament of Confession in order to be genuinely reconciled with the Father.

Because of this, Francis said, he has allowed all priests for the Jubilee of Mercy ‘to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.’

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